the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘meta

Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

publishes on Sept 17th 2019

where I got it: Received ARC, Thanks Tachyon!

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So, this book is going to get a lot, and I mean a LOT of hype in the next few months. Hype makes me nervous. It makes me worried that some slick salesperson is trying to separate me from my money. Here’s everything you need to know about Ivory Apples, and hype:

  1. the hype is well deserved. This book was everything I want storytelling to be
  2. Ignore the hype, go get the book
  3. My literature hot take is that Neil Gaiman hasn’t written anything half as good as Ivory Apples.

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This book is mythology given new life, it’s folklore happening in your backyard. Remember a few weekends ago, when I disappeared off the face of the earth, when I wasn’t online, when I wasn’t answering texts, tweets, or e-mails? It’s because I was immersed in this book and I didn’t want to come up for air until I’d finished it. To be honest, I wanted to stay immersed, I didn’t want to come up for air, ever. On page one I fell in love with the narrative voice, by page three I decided I wanted to be Maeve when I grew up, and by that afternoon I was halfway through the book.
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I’m gonna talk to you about mythology and folklore and storytelling and art for a minute, ok? We use mythology and folklore to explain things that we have no explanation for. Our favorite stories are the ones that give us hope that one day we too, can steal fire from the gods. That one day we too, might do something legendary, might go on our own hero’s journey. Storytelling is powerful, it enables us to do things we didn’t think possible. And the storytellers and the artists! They create magic out of thin air, and somehow make it look easy! Imagine if you could have just a piece of their gift. What wouldn’t you give to be as talented as your favorite writer, your favorite poet, your favorite musician, or your favorite artist?
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Anyway, Ivory Apples opens in the late 90s. The eldest of four sisters, Ivy is eleven years old when the story starts. All four girls are old enough to understand that they must always call their great-aunt by her not-real name, Maeve. They must never tell anyone her real name, what her phone number is, or where she lives. Their reclusive great-aunt Maeve is really Adela Madden, the author of the runaway hit novel Ivory Apples. She wrote the novel decades ago, and never wrote anything else. Maeve could care less about the royalty checks, she’s not interested in fan-mail or conventions held in her name, she’s not interested in talking about the book that made her famous. She’s mostly interested in staying hidden from the world, and lets a relative deal with the fan-mail and the banking.
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Ivy was such a wonderful character to follow! When we meet her she’s a care-free preteen, who bickers with her sisters and often forgets what adults have asked her to do. She’s too young to understand what she’s stumbled on, but knows she can’t tell anyone but Maeve, because no one else could possible understand. I won’t go into details, but I loved watching her learn about what was going on, and learn to live with what happens to her. Once you get to know her, maybe she’ll remind of someone in your life, maybe you’ll say to yourself “maybe what happened to Ivy happened to them”, and you’ll smile.

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Redshirts by John Scalzi

published in June 2012 by Tor Books

where I got it:  borrowed ARC from a friend

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If you grew up watching Star Trek TOS or TNG, if you fell in love with discovering new worlds and new civilizations on the back of suspiciously shoddy science, if you wondered were those relief ensigns on the bridge came from (ensign closet?), if you derided TNG for its pathetically formulaic and episodic set up (Data is training his cat in the opening? He’ll totally still be training the cat in the closing, and wow they sure solved that mystery fast!) yet still loyally watched and rewatched every single episode, Redshirts is the book for you. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long, long time. The franchise that Bakula nearly destroyed and Tim Allen inadvertently nearly saved has been saved again.

Way to wreck the franchise, Bakula.

Ok, you don’t have to be quite as much of a trekkie geek as I am to enjoy Redshirts. Scalzi starts out spoofing science fiction shows that feature terrible science, but ends up faithfully honoring the spirit of those same shows while at the same time boldly going completely meta and self-aware.

I found Redshirts to be hysterically funny, completely off the wall, full of sarcastic wit and absolutely brilliant. Also? it’s fucking hilarious.

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Simpy put, this is the story of a man named Charles Yu, and he is a time machine repairman. He accidentally meets a future version of himself, and receives a book called How to Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe, written by himself, in the future.

His time machine computer, named TAMMY (who Charles has a bit of a crush on) happily transcribes the book while Charles is reading it, therefore writing the book he wrote, as he is in the process of reading it, while his nonexistent dog, Ed, sits happily at his feet. There is simply no way he’ll have time to read the entire book before he shoots himself.    Still with me?

Charles is a lowly IT tech with the time machine company. He travels around in his shower stall sized time machine and helps clients between phone calls from his supervisor, Phil, who is also just a computer program. After 10 years on the job, Charles knows people use recreational time machines for only one thing: to revisit the saddest times of their lives and try to fix things. To fix their regrets.

Charles is no hypocrite, he does the same thing. Revisiting the past, over and over again. His clinically depressed mother and his inventor father, who only wanted to invent a way to spend more time with his wife and child. The more time he spent on his invention to create more time, the less time he had with his family. Ordinary stresses can pull or push apart any family, and Charles’s family is no different.

Is this a science fiction novel? Is this a coming of age novel? A story about a man trying to figure out where things went wrong so he can avoid the same mistakes? A man trying to find his parents, so he can tell them one last time that he loves them? A self help novel masquerading as a SF novel? Yes, a little bit, yes, most def, and sort of. Read the rest of this entry »

We just watched the movie “The Fountain”.

I enjoyed it, but my other half enjoyed it muchly.  he says:

“If you have an imagination and you’re not afraid to stretch it, and if you’re willing to let a movie take you on a ride, a story , a journey, give The Fountain a chance. I don’t think the critics gave it enough of a change, it is definitely worth seeing.

The visuals and sound effects work together perfectly and complimented the story on the screen.   the visuals and music were beautiful, but unimportant. what was important was the journey the viewer is taken on during the 2 hour film.  even though it’s nothing like a Bernardo Bertolucci movie, it reminds me of his work – it’s not translating a play and writing it into a movie, it’s writing something that’s meant to be a movie, and only a movie.

If they made this a book, you’d know too many things.  If you know – you won’t experience. knowledge in some cases inhibits our ability to experience the world around us.  And this movie expresses that, like a Bertolucci movie, or like 2001, or even Princess Mononoke.”

I liked it too, but he liked it more.  For me it was very pretty, and very meta.  and i’m really feeling that meta these days.  in fact, “meta” might be my word for 2011.


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.